Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Thirsting for History ~ A DIY London Pub Crawl

You can work up a thirst when you DIY (do it yourself) tour a city.  Especially when the temperatures are in the 80’s (26C) and the city is London, England.

We found there’s no better place than an old traditional English pub to provide a means of quenching your thirst while providing a taste of history. 

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Ale taps at Audley Pub - Mayfair District
One of our favorite public houses – that is from where the word ‘pub’ comes --  is the Audley Pub, a block from Grosvenor Square in the Mayflower district, on the corner of Mount and South Audley streets.  It was an easy few blocks walk from our hotel. We’d been so charmed by it on a London stopover a few years ago that we headed back to it within hours of our arrival this spring. 

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Interior Audley Pub - Mayfair District - London 
This traditional old watering hole was established back in 1730 as The Bricklayers Arms. It was rebuilt in 1888 at the instruction of the Duke of Westminster and the landlord at the time was allowed to keep his lease but had to change the name to the ‘more respectable’ Audley Hotel.

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Stand up and sip outside the Audley Pub - Mayfair District
No longer a hotel, there is a cozy restaurant area on the pub’s second floor that served up some of the best pub grub we found in London during our visit a few years ago. It was closed for a private party the evening we were there this spring, so it still seems to be popular.

The Audley, like most pubs in London, is crowded in the early evenings with a mix of professionals who’ve come from their ‘dress-for-success’ offices and are still ‘talking shop’ and other more casually dressed drinkers, like us, who simply want a beverage and atmosphere.

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George, a private club, occupies part of building across the street from Audley Pub

Audley Pub provided hearty servings of both beverage and atmosphere. We aren’t ale fans, but found a good selection of wine from which to choose. And once selected, we headed to the sidewalk (where smokers partake of tobacco because of recent anti-smoking laws) and others of us were there to enjoy the good weather and neighborhood surroundings.

A change we noticed from our last London visit, was that each pub had a security officer to make sure the patrons don’t block sidewalks or worse, step out into traffic.

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Audley House - Mayfair District - London
Our sidewalk sipping was kitty-corner from the ornate entry to Audley House, built in 1881. It has been the home of James Purdey & Sons Gun and Rifle Shop since 1883, and back then it was considered ‘the most prestigious gun shop in the country’. The shop continues to flourish in this stately building that bears a plaque where shrapnel from a World War II air raid damaged pillars. (Windows on its east side were destroyed by an IRA bomb in 1972.)  

We’d pondered its history while sipping our wine and having  researched it since returning home, we plan to go in next time to see its Long Room which was used during WWII by General Dwight Eisenhower’s staff to plan battles. 

British Pubs – Here today – gone tomorrow?

While British pubs are as iconic a part of London as its red phone booths and double-decker buses, there aren’t as many of them around as there used to be.  In 2014 the British Beer and Pub Association reported there were 51,900 pubs in the United Kingdom, a sharp decrease from 1982 when 67,800 pubs operated there.

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The Salisbury - theatre district - London
Any number of reasons have contributed to the closing of more than 7,000 U.K. pubs; among them are the anti-smoking laws I mentioned above, beer prices at supermarkets, and the impact of the 2008 financial crisis. According to the Association the British are drinking 23 percent less ale than a decade ago; their trend is toward drinking wine in ‘trendier’ bars.  In London, the hot housing market had pub owners selling businesses which were converted to houses or apartments. Many of the pubs are now owned and operated by breweries.

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The Salisbury - London pub
One pub that is still going strong is The Salisbury at 90 St. Martin Lane, in the heart of the Theatre District. It opened in 1892 as a gin palace and in recent years has been featured in a number of films. This pub offers an app you can download for do-it-yourself ‘themed pub tours, such as a ghost tour, or a shopping tour. To download the app:  www.taylor-walker.co.uk/ale-trail/trails

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The Iron Duke - Mayfair District - London
We had another taste of history, along with a glass of wine, at The Iron Duke, 11 Avery Row, back in the Mayfair District, as the pub’s name is for that of the “Iron Duke”, the first Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, a decorated army commander who ruled as Prime Minister in the late 1820’s.
(You’ll note here we were surrounded by the dress-for-success-after-work crowd.)

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Prince Regent Pub - Marylebone High StreetAdd caption
And some pubs just call out because they are in an interesting neighborhood or they are housed in picturesque buildings, like the case of the Prince Regent pub we sipped at on the Marylebone High Street.

Marylebone is an affluent area, walking distance from our hotel near Hyde Park in Mayfair - for those who are able to walk several blocks. Its High Street is alive with small shops and cafes. According to Wikipedia, “Marylebone gets its name from a church dedicated to St Mary, represented now by St. Marylebone Parish Church(1817); the original church was built on the bank of a small stream or “bourne”.

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Angel in the Fields - Maryleborne - London
As I told you in last week’s post, we spent a few days exploring London on our own without any particular plan. Several of the pubs we visited during our stay, we’d discovered on previous stops in London and we were pleased to see they were still in existence. Even with the decrease in their overall numbers, luckily, old traditional pubs are still easy to find in London.

If you aren’t up to setting out on your own, simply “Google” London pub tours and a variety of options will appear.  I did a quick search and found a 3-hour afternoon walk from $33.81US; a 4-hour west end tour from $64.91US and a Literary Pub Crawl and Tavern Tour from $24.34US.

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Ale taps - Prince Regent Pub - Maryleborne
That’s it for this week.  We thank you for your time and hope you’ll be back to see what’s ‘on tap’ next week!  Until then, safe and healthy travels to you and yours ~

Linking up this week:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration

34 comments:

  1. Hi Jackie, next time you're walking on the 'pavement' in London and pass Purdey's, don't enquire as to the cost of a Match Pair of 12 bore shotguns... they will probably cost you more than The Stone House! At least you had better weather that we've had here up north.

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    1. Just 'window shopping' there alerted me to the possible costs of items inside and then when researching it I found an 'owner's' link which I thought would tell me about the store's owners but instead it was a link to register yourself as an owner of one of the products it sold. . .a rather posh place, period!

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  2. Ah, the royal pub treatment. I'll take an IPA.

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    1. Does work up a thirst doesn't it? Thanks for stopping by, Colleen!

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  3. I love British pubs. A DIY tour can be such fun. With so many closing (or changing into restaurants), I wonder how many will be left in a decade or tow.

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    1. Pubs are reason enough to visit London in my book Donna, I do hope they don't continue to close at such a pace.

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  4. Oh, how fun this must have been...I had a cousin that married a British girl and they lived in Bath for 40 yrs. He kept wanting me to visit and I so wanted to, but finances (or lack of) prevented me from going...he died last year and now, if I had it to do over, I'd walk and swim all the way...I am so so sorry I didn't try harder to go and I just know I am never going to get over it...

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    1. BJ, so sorry you didn't get over there to visit your cousin. I keep telling my friends who say they are coming to visit us in Greece to get it done. . .our medical adventure reminded us quite vividly that the future isn't guaranteed and one of these days we won't be there to visit. Sad but true!

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  5. I love that you chose to show us some of London's Public Houses. I never realised Pub was short for that! Pommy Pubs were one of the things really liked about England. I've done the after work pub scene when I visited the UK by myself in my very early 20's and my friend worked with an advertising company. We mostly hung out in pubs in Soho. Years later, Marty and I lived in Devon for three months on a farm and we spent each Friday night in the pub owner by another friend of ours (British) family. It was near dartmoor and tiny and atmospheric. We loved going on country walks and dropping in at a country pub also. Great post.

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    1. Jan I loved your memories of pub visits! There is something special about going to a pub vs. just a bar any old place. I hope the English who want 'trendier' come to realize what a treasure they have in the old places. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. A lot of things in Europe look so over the top. A "humble" pub looks like an architectural gem. The same happens with churches, post offices, train stations and libraries. I kind of like that.

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    1. It is interesting so look at the old architecture, but as I was going through photos for the next post, I thought to myself, that I really need to show the sleek new buildings that are replacing far too many (in my opinion) of those wonderful old ones!

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  7. Public - pub -- Never thought about that! It's been years since I've been in London, and I thoroughly enjoyed this pub crawl! The architecture is fabulous!

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    1. The architecture is amazing on the old buildings, but as I point out in an upcoming post, sadly, many of them are being razed for those ubiquitous sleek skyscrapers that have no personality whatsoever. Thanks for stopping by, Amy!

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  8. Hi Jackie. There may be fewer pubs, but they still look very popular! It's nice that you could get outside and enjoy the weather and the architecture. I'd probably partake of the wine as well. I'm not a huge ale/beer drinker. Thanks for linking up this week! :) #TPThursday

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    1. The weather was a key to the success of this stop as we commented several times, "Can you imagine doing this (or that) in the pouring rain?" They serve very good wine, btw! #TPThursday

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  9. You certainly were busy in London. How many miles did you walk to get to see all those pubs. And each one is a gem full of character and unique architecture.

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    1. Our pedometer said we had walked 33.5 miles during our four days in London. So I think I burned off enough calories to compensate for the wine I drank, Mary! Thanks for the visit~

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  10. Seems we have similar taste in pubs! I've been to both the Audley and the Salisbury and am glad to hear they are still around. Hope to visit them again next time, and maybe a few of the others your detail.

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    1. Don't you just love those two pubs, Carole? I am so charmed by them all that I could probably be happy 'doing London' even if I saw nothing but pubs!

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    1. It really was fun and we realized again how much there is to see and do in this fabulous - if expensive - city! Thanks for the visit~

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  12. Thanks Jackie for more ideas for our (hopefully soon) London trip. I like the much more descriptive name of "Bricklayers Arms" versus Audley Hotel which sounds very bland. Never-the-less, it looks like a terrific place to sip a libation and people watch. And wouldn't you have loved to have gone to the 1892 gin palace at the Salisbury? (I wonder if women were even allowed ...?) All-in-all your DIY pub crawl looks like a smashing success!

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    1. We could have visited even more of these charming old watering holes tucked in and about the city, Anita. So many pubs (even with the reduction in numbers) and so little time. . .isn't that the way it goes? Thanks for the visit!

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  13. Nothing like a good pub crawl to get a feel for a city. Love the look of the Audley Pub.

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    1. The Audley is our favorite - hands down! But all are simply charming. Thanks for the visit!

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  14. What a great list - and some wonderful ideas for a future visit to London as you never know which pubs are really great or not ... so this is a super list! But they all do look lovely, don't they, particularly in summer.

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    1. Something about that sunshine that always makes things look better. As much as I adore London, it would have been a completely different experience (or lack of) in the pouring rain.

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  15. Thanks for this educations about pubs---even loved learning where the word came from~

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  16. This post so makes me want to go to London. I haven't been there in many years.

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    1. We were much the same way and still keep remarking about why it had slipped down the list and we'd not been back for so long.

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  17. Good to see a British Pub... I think this is the first one (2) I am seeing in a blog. Great captures and a informative post.

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    1. Thanks Indrani, glad you found it to be informative!

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